I have been heartened by strong community support for Hamilton's Anzac Day commemorations in recent years.
As expected (and helped by stunning weather) large crowds attended both the Dawn Service and Civic Ceremony at the Cenotaph last Wednesday.
It was lovely to see many local schools represented at the civic ceremony (especially as the day fell during the school holidays) with pupils laying wreaths. Congratulations to Nicholas Goodman of Hamilton Boys' High School for an excellent address on the significance of Anzac Day, especially to today's young people.
Beautiful singing by the Waikato Rivertones Chorus and Mighty River Harmony, and playing by Hamilton's City Brass Band and Caledonian Society Pipe Band, further enhanced the occasion. Hamilton City Brass also presented an excellent Anzac Remembrance concert at Southwell School on 22 April. We are very fortunate to have such talented musicians in our city and their concerts are always superb.
Later this year we will mark the centenary of the armistice which brought an end to World War I on 11 November 1918. What a great day that must have been — but how tragic that the peace was shattered again just 21 years later.
David Bennett and I warmly invite you to meet National's new Leader Simon Bridges at a public meeting at Café Agora next Thursday at 11am.
Simon has made a very good start as Leader, and Government ministers seem determined to hand him lots of opportunities to attack their decisions and performance.
Sadly (and for all the current Government's bluster about "supporting the regions") they are regularly making decisions that are a significant attack on regional economies. It's clear that the Waikato will be particularly hard hit.
The announcements include the cancellation of major irrigation schemes and a refusal to continue funding the Rural Health Alliance.
Vital Waikato roading projects are under threat, including the extension of the Waikato Expressway to Tirau and to the Kaimai ranges, and the crucial Southern Links project seems to be off the table again.
The cessation of oil and gas exploration (without industry consultation) is a body blow to Taranaki — and it won't secure the environmental benefits it is intended to achieve. Labour's determination to bring agriculture into New Zealand's Emissions Trading Scheme before we have the technology available to reduce emissions without culling stock will amount to an unfair tax on farmers and our vital primary sector exports.
The Minister of Health is unenthusiastic about the Waikato Medical School proposal. I support that project strongly, not least because it's based on a proven international model that would help to overcome the significant problem of attracting GP services to hard-to-staff rural and provincial centres in Waikato and neighbouring regions.